French Watchdog Investigating Apple's Personalized Advertising Practices After Allegations of Hypocrisy

Apple is to be investigated by France's data-protection watchdog following allegations that the company's personalized advertising feature violates European Union data protection and e-privacy rules (via Bloomberg).

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The National Commission on Informatics and Liberty, known as "CNIL," is France's regulator that oversees privacy and data. CNIL is now examining antitrust allegations from France Digitale, a lobbying group representing startups and venture capital companies, about Apple's personalized advertising practices.

Apple displays personalized ads in the App Store, Apple News, and the Stocks app based on collected user data, but does not request consent before doing so.

Four French advertising lobbies have highlighted that Apple's changes to App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14, which requests user permission to be tracked across apps and websites for advertising purposes, do not extend to Apple itself. Apple can still deliver personalized advertising via a default setting, the lobbies have said, thereby holding itself to a different standard.

France Digitale alleges in its complaint that users are "insufficiently informed" about the use and processing of their personal data by Apple. Apple has now responded to the claim, calling the allegations "patently false," and said that "privacy is built into the ads we sell on our platform with no tracking."

The investigation may result in requests for Apple to make adjustments to its personalized advertising systems, or even an in-depth probe with sanctions. EU General Data Protection Regulation law allows data regulators to levy fines of as much as four percent of a company's annual sales for breaches.

A ruling is expected as soon as March 17, and Bloomberg claims that the result could have "implications" for Apple's personalized advertising in a future iOS 14 update.

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Top Rated Comments

RalfTheDog Avatar
43 months ago
France says that Apple is tracking users on their own apps. Apple says they are not. I wonder what evidence the French government has. Are they willing to publicly post it?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
43 months ago
So this is about....money?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Captain Trips Avatar
43 months ago
You know, I don't doubt that some investigations / accusations have merit - no one (individual or organization of individuals) is perfect.

But recently it seems like "pile on Apple" time.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
az431 Avatar
43 months ago

France says that Apple is tracking users on their own apps. Apple says they are not. I wonder what evidence the French government has. Are they willing to publicly post it?
Zero.

Advertising companies collect and use data from third-party apps for the purpose of tracking users to serve personalized ads without users of those apps knowing who, what, or why data is being collected.

For that reason, Apple now requires developers to obtain permission before collecting data when it is used for tracking by third-parties. The same exact rule applies to Apple, however, Apple does not collect data for tracking by third-parties, so there will never be a permission prompt.

This doesn't only apply to Apple. If Google wanted to use the data in its own Gmail app to serve personalized ads without the prompt, it could do that. The problem is it also makes that data available to third parties (advertisers), which makes it fall within the requirement. Google can't do that because its entire business model revolves around making that data available to advertisers. Same with FaceBook.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdclifford Avatar
43 months ago
"Allegations of Hypocrisy"? Is that a crime in France? Sacre Bleu! Does it really matter whether Apple runs personalized or generic ads in its apps?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
43 months ago
Everyone’s after Apple’s money ?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)